Help us protect the Rico/West Dolores region in the San Juan National Forest (SJNF) from excessive motorized trails while safeguarding these 245,000 acres of the Dolores River watershed for wildlife habitat, watershed health and quiet-use recreation activities including hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, foraging, hunting and more.
You can help by understanding the issues and submitting written comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the Rico/West Dolores Roads and Trails (Travel Management) Project. The comment deadline is Friday, July 15. See below for how-to-comment details and where to obtain more information.
These are our suggested comments to protect the Dolores River watershed for quiet recreational use, wildlife habitat and watershed health:
1. QUIET USE NECESSITY Non-motorized users have been increasingly displaced from the single-track trails in the Rico/West Dolores area by motorized dirtbikers – it’s accurate to note that user conflicts exist! Motorcycles are inappropriate on our public use trails in backcountry roadless areas with alpine tundra, wetlands, meadows, streams and other pristine features. While dirtbikers are a small percentage of trail users, their negative impacts are disproportionately greater, including the displacement of quiet trail users, harm to wildlife habitat, the elimination of potential for wildlife viewing, trail erosion, and the fouling of streams and wetlands. Our experience indicates that motorized use is in conflict with the desired experience of quiet users - INSIST that most trails in the area should be designated for quiet use only. There are plenty of other areas east and west of the town of Dolores already set aside for motorized trail use.
2. SEASONAL USE Secure and ample wildlife habitat is imperative for an array of species in the area and also important to you as a forest visitor with an interest in wildlife viewing, sightseeing, hunting or otherwise quietly and gently enjoying our forested public lands. Volumes of research indicate that motorized use of trails is harmful to wildlife habitat and inhibits wildlife viewing as well as hunting experiences. Insist that all motorized trail use be restricted to a defined use time to protect elk and deer in the early summer, to minimize travel during wet “melt-out” conditions, and to provide a quiet experience for hunters in the late summer. INSIST on a motorized use opening from July 1 to Sept. 8 or shorter. The largest user group in the Rico/West Dolores area are hunters, and they deserve a quiet hunt annually from Sept. 9 onward. As well, elk and deer would welcome a quiet spring season.
3. TRAIL USE DESIGNATIONS If you have traveled in the Rico/West Dolores area you probably have favorite trails. If presently these are mixed-use trails (quiet and motorized use combined) and you would like to see them designated as quiet use ONLY trails, write a comment specifically noting which trails you would like to see designated for quiet use and why your own experience indicates such. We recommend that these trails be designated as quiet use only trails: Bear Creek, Northern Calico, Grindstone, Johnny Bull, Rough Canyon, East Fall and West Fall Creek and East Fork Burnett Creek.
- Elimination of motored travel in all of the Bear Creek drainage, as specified in the Alternatives D and E (detailed in the Draft EIS on the website explained below) is a high priority need. This would include no motorized travel on the following trails: Bear Creek, Gold Run, Little Bear, Grindstone and Hillside.
- Support the “Desired Outcome” detailed in the SFNF management plan for the town of Rico that recommends “non-motorized recreation modes to emphasize the community’s quiet-use character.” Insist that all trails originating in Rico be designated non-motorized.
4. ALTERNATIVE E Quiet users need to be able to enjoy a quality recreation experience in a few areas – areas without the noise, smell and hazards of motorized trail traffic. Alternative E is the only alternative that provides that experience. Within the entire Dolores District, there are currently no areas reserved for quiet use - both the Mancos-Cortez area and the Boggy-Glade area are bisected completely by motorized trails and dominated by motorized use. Motorized users have plenty of trails to utilize on the San Juan National Forest, and it's time that quiet users have an area reserved primarily for their use.
How to Comment:
1. Web search for “travel management rico west dolores” and open the San Juan
2. Click on the first project listed: “Travel Management - Rico West Dolores Roads
3. Within the “Get Connected” box click on the “Comment on Project” menu item, which will bring you to an e-comment form - https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=44918. Complete this form or email comments to Debbie Kill, NEPA Lead - [email protected]. Mail written comments to Dolores Public Lands Office at 29211 Hwy. 184, Dolores, CO 81323.
The Dolores River watershed and backcountry needs our support! Step up and submit a comment while the opportunity is available.
Comments must be received by July 15.